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Victorian life sciences researchers are set to benefit from a partnership between the University of Melbourne and IBM announced today by the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Brumby.

Two renowned University of Melbourne medical researchers have received $4m Australia Fellowships awarded by the NHMRC and announced today by Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mr Mark Butler.

The University of Melbourne congratulates Professor Pat McGorry as the 2010 Australian of the Year.

The University of Melbourne congratulates Professor Pat McGorry as the 2010 Australian of the Year.

Professor McGorry is Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health (OYH), a world-renowned youth mental health organisation and Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace).

With an emphasis on early intervention and a commitment to educating the community to the early signs of mental illness, Professor McGorry’s extraordinary 27-year contribution has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of young people the world over.

University of Melbourne Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the University was delighted that Professor McGorry's outstanding contributions to youth mental health, through research and education, have been recognised at the highest Australian level. 

"Pat McGorry has been a passionate advocate for youth mental health issues for almost three decades.  He has transformed the lives of many young people with early psychosis and has helped to create much-needed awareness of these issues in our community," he says.
 
Professor Bruce Singh, Acting Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences says, the Faculty is thrilled that one of its long standing members has been honoured by the award of Australian of the Year, joining an elite group of distinguished contributors to this country.

“It vindicates the decision of the Faculty to create the first Chair of Youth Mental Health in Australia and to appoint Professor McGorry to it by invitation in 2006,” Professor Singh says.

“The Faculty is very proud that Professor McGorry has utilized his role in the University over many years to be a fearless advocate for the needs of young people with mental health problems and a very effective champion in bringing increased recognition to the area and a substantial increase in government funding for it.

“I am particularly pleased because of the small role I played in bringing him into the University shortly after I took over leadership of the Department of Psychiatry some 20 years ago.”

 

Scientists at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne have discovered the cells that cause a common type of childhood leukaemia – T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (T-ALL). Targeting of these cells may lead to improved treatments for this disease and help prevent relapse.

The team, led by Dr Matthew McCormack and Dr David Curtis of the Rotary Bone Marrow Research Laboratories and the University’s Department of Medicine at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, made the discovery whilst studying mice prone to developing this leukaemia.

The results have been published online today by the prestigious international journal Science.

The team found that with irradiation treatment in animal models, over 99 per cent of cells in the thymus were killed, but these stem cell-like cells persisted and rapidly recovered. This suggests that these cells may survive therapy and be responsible for relapsed disease following treatment.

Currently, children with T-ALL are given extended therapy over two to three years in an attempt to stop a relapse. More targeted therapy on the thymus cells could reduce the length and toxicity of treatment and prevent relapse.

Dr McCormack, a leading international expert on childhood leukaemia, said: “The cellular origins of this leukaemia are not well understood. Our discovery that these cells are similar to normal stem cells explains why they are capable of surviving for long periods. It also explains why they are remarkably resistant to treatment.”

Approximately 50 new cases of T-ALL are diagnosed every year in Australia, two thirds of these in children or adolescents. Adults also contract T-ALL, and the majority succumb to resistant or relapsed disease.


Dr Curtis, a Clinical Haematologist and head of the Leukaemia Research Program at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said: “The identification of these cells provides an important target for the development and testing of new treatments for patients with T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.”

The team will now focus on novel treatments capable of killing these cells, which may lead to clinical trials within the next five years.

The research also involved Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK.

The research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Cancer Council Victoria, Leukaemia Foundation of Australia and the Fight Cancer Foundation (BMDI).

Scientists at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne have discovered the cells that cause a common type of childhood leukaemia - T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (T-ALL). Targeting of these cells may lead to improved treatments for this disease and help prevent relapse.

The Nintendo Wii Balance Board could be a far cheaper alternative than professional diagnostic tests for clinicians to prevent falls in the elderly and those with neurological conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease, a new study reveals.

Prominent international psychiatrist and neuropathologist Professor Ian Everall has been appointed as the new Cato Chair and Head of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry based at Melbourne Health, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Eating your way to better mental health
Women who eat a healthy diet may reduce their risk of developing anxiety and depression according to new research led by the University of Melbourne.

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